Masons on a Mission- 2001
Preliminary Report by Pat Manley, March 6/01
El Rincon, (meaning corner) faces the distant Pacific Ocean, perched on the
edge of the western highlands, and at an elevation of 4500-ft. Steep
mountains tower around and above the village. The tallest, el Chickabal, is
actually an extinct volcano, and rises an additional 4500 ft from the very
edge of the village.
The mountains wring a lot of water from the moist pacific winds, and most
everywhere you look is lush and green. Tall trees support vines, and
bromeliads are perched everywhere on their branches.
Everywhere, except for in the many garden plots of the Mam Maya, the
inhabitants of El Rincon. Being an ancient village, garden plots and
pathways have been established for many centuries, and large garden plots
dominate anywhere there is not all ready a dwelling, and go a ways right up
the sides of the mountains.
Potatoes were being harvested extensively while we were there, as well as
plots of beans, squash, carrots and corn.
It is a very lush scene outdoors, but when we entered the dwellings in El
Rincon, the realities of the three stone fires quickly reminded us of why we
were there. Shiny black creosote covers the undersides of the sheet metal
roofs and wooden beams. Even when the fire is out, smelled alot like a dirty
We had a talented and diverse and hard working crew of 7 North American
masons, 3 volunteers who quickly became masons, a photographer, a video
photographer, and 2 doctors. The video of Guatemala Stove Project/ Masons
on a Mission- 2001 will be out soon.
By the middle of March, 75 estufas will have been built in El Rincon by
North American volunteers, local Maya masons that we hired, and assisted by
the estufa recipients. The remaining 25 stoves in El Rincon are being built
with materials we have provided, and by native Maya masons we have hired.
We have also funded the building of another 75 cookstoves in 3 very remote
hamlets in the higher elevations well away from Xela, to start next month.
Another dimension of this work became more apparent to me this year. It came
to me while I watched dozens of Maya children laughing, singing and dancing
down the road behind our video man, Brian, who was dancing and singing up a
storm. A dozen families stood in their yards and gardens, laughing, watching
It was priceless!
We are not just building cookstoves so that hundreds of the Mam Mayas' lives
will be longer and healthier, even though that is our basic goal. We are
also building bridges between two very different worlds. We get to
experience how WAY too much of the rest of the world lives, and realize just
how easy our lives are and how good we have it. And once you are really
moved like that, it is not so easy to ignore anymore.
It would not have happened without the generous donations of money, time,
sweat and effort from so many of you!
Thank you all!!!
Plans are being made for a block party to celebrate this years successful
mission, and raise funds for the next mission in February 2002. TENTATIVE
plans are for October 7th, 2001 at Café Miranda in Rockland, Maine, for
food, live music, dancing, and ? Ideas anyone?
Those of you who are due for a photograph, give me a month or so to select
and process all the pictures that are available to me.
Should any one prefer not to receive updates, please let me know.
J Patrick Manley
Brick Stove Works
15 Nelson Ridge South
Washington Maine 04574
207 845 2440